November 5, 2021

Editorial

Let’s continue to pray for vocations in the local Church

“The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest” (Mt 9:37-38).

These words from the Gospel of Matthew have been cited by deacons, priests, bishops, religious and the lay faithful when it comes to praying for vocations. 

And the above Scripture is also a quotation cited by Father Michael Keucher, archdiocesan director of vocations, in a “by the numbers” fact sheet he shared for National Vocations Awareness Week, which the Church in the United States celebrates on Nov. 7-13. 

During this time, dioceses and parishes across the U.S. are being asked to foster an appreciation for all vocations and pray specifically for those discerning a vocation to ordained ministry and consecrated life. 

In his message for the 58th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis offered St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, as a model for vocational discernment. 

“[St. Joseph] found the courage to follow God’s will. So too in a vocation: God’s call always urges us to take a first step, to give ourselves, to press forward. There can be no faith without risk. Only by abandoning ourselves confidently to grace, setting aside our own programs and comforts, can we truly say ‘yes’ to God,” the pope said. The Holy Father exhorted the Church to look to St. Joseph as an “outstanding example of acceptance of God’s plans.” 

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, N.J., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is encouraging dioceses to use this weeklong observance as a time to foster vocations in their local faith communities. 

“Studies of those recently ordained and religiously professed consistently show that the encouragement of the parish priest is the most influential factor in vocational discernment,” Bishop Checchio said in an Oct. 20 statement about the observance. 

“But the accompaniment of the whole faith community is key for genuine vocational discernment—from one’s parents and family members, to the Catholic educators, as well as the vital role that youth ministers and fellow parishioners play as the early encounters for young people to the faith,” he added. 

Praying for vocations is a constant of parishes across central and southern Indiana, and the statistics Father Keucher recently provided demonstrate those petitions are bearing fruit. 

The archdiocese currently has 26 seminarians in priestly formation—11 at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and 15 at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

There are also four men and 10 women in religious formation in the archdiocese, and 11 men and 13 women in formation from the archdiocese. 

While we should be thankful for those numbers, a deeper look into the statistics shows there are ongoing challenges. There are currently 101 active priests in assigned ministry and six priests beyond retirement age who are still currently serving full time in central and southern Indiana. To take it a step further, there are 2,198 Catholics per active priest in our archdiocese.  

The statistics also reveal that 20 priests are eligible to retire in the next five years, and God willing, 17 seminarians could be ordained new priests in the next few years. 

What do those numbers mean? They confirm our prayers for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life must continue. 

While we know of 336 people offering holy hours for vocations each week, we must strive to double, triple or increase that figure more.

Through our witness and prayers, we must continue to plant seeds for vocations so God can bear fruit. 

Finally, Father Keucher shared, if 1% of students in Catholic schools in the archdiocese entered the priesthood or religious life, we would have 200-plus new priests and religious. Now, that is a goal worth praying for! 

For more information about vocations to the priesthood or religious life, send an e-mail to vocations@archindy.org or visit HearGodsCall.com

And may we recite this “Prayer for Vocations” from the USCCB often: 

(Jesus) said to them “Come and See.”
They came and saw where he was staying (Jn 1:39).
God of all nations, we are most grateful
for the first Catholic missionaries and explorers who came to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
As strangers in a strange land they brought with them countless skills,
talents and traditions, but their greatest treasure was their faith.
May the good News of Jesus Christ, which molded and shaped their lives,
continue to mold and shape our lives today.
Bless our archdiocese with men and women
who will follow in their footsteps to serve the Church
as religious brothers, sisters, priests, and deacons.
Lord Jesus Christ, help to hear your call to “Come and See.”

—Mike Krokos

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!